The Evolution of the Journal of Curriculum Studies
The first issue of the Journal of Curriculum Studies appeared in November 1968. The issue was edited at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom and featured papers by, among others, Lawrence Stenhouse of the U.K. and John Goodlad of the US. The first volume was made up of two issues, about 200 pages. Today, thirty years later, JCS has editors from the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, and the US; it appears six times a year with each volume containing 700+ pages. Recent issues have included papers and reviews by, to name just a few individuals, Wolfgang Klafki, Stefan Hopmann, Christoph Lüth, Michael Knoll, and Peter Menck from Germany, Tomas Englund, Ingrid Carlgren, and Daniel Kallós from Sweden as well as many Canadian, Australian, British, and US authors.
The late 1960s were years, in the U.K., of the much-expanded availability of secondary education and a new kind of secondary school, the comprehensive. They were years in which school subjects were being updated by way of many national curriculum projects. It was a period in which there was the problem of the dissemination of new curricular ideas and curriculum packages. They were years of a belief in the importance of ëmoderní curricula, of optimism about the place of education in the well- of both individuals and societies, and of the expansion of faculties and colleges of teacher education as more and more students were enrolling in their undergraduate and graduate programs. These students and their teachers -- and through them the schools -- needed the academic resources of curriculum studies, curriculum research, and curriculum development.
Philip Taylor of the University of Birmingham, England, was the founding editor of JCS. Taylor was the first person in the United Kingdom appointed to a professorial position in the new field of curriculum studies and the new journal was intended both to give British curriculum studies a scholarly focus and to symbolize the academic significance and legitimacy of the field. But from its earliest years its editorial policies reflected the particular characteristics in its British milieu as well as the scholarly concerns and emphases of Philip Taylor and JCS's co-founder, Bill Reid, who had joined Taylor in the early 1970s as the second faculty member in general curriculum studies at Birmingham.
Thus while the British curricular movement of the 1960s was very much a national movement, it was at the same time a movement that had a special influence in the countries of the old British empire. As 'curriculum,' as an idea and symbol of educational change, diffused from Britain to Canada, Australia, India and the newly independent African countries, JCS's influence and reach spread broadly and the editors responded by publishing papers from places far from Birmingham. From the earliest years of the journal this internationalism made curriculum studies, as the field was represented in JCS, very different from curriculum studies in the United States.
And although JCS emerged from, and was deeply embedded in its milieu of the British world, the journal could not ignore the United States. America was, when all was said and done the heartland of the curriculum reform movement, of comprehensive, secondary schooling, of curriculum as an academic field of study, and of curriculum theory and research. As Goodlad's paper, and the other American papers, in the first volumes symbolized, Philip Taylor and Bill Reid firmly believed that they had to actively concern themselves, and the journal, with curriculum developments and curriculum thought in the U.S. I joined JCS as North American editor in 1975 to further JCS's ambitions to become an explicitly international, rather than a 'national,' journal of curriculum studies. Later Malcolm Skilbeck and John Olson joined us as the Australian and New Zealand and Canadian editors.
As we talked in late 1970s about what JCS had achieved since its foundation, and what we wanted to achieve, something very important seemed to be missing. Curriculum problems, curriculum research, and curriculum policy-making and theory were, and are, not Anglo-Saxon issues alone. Scandinavia, for example, had a developed comprehensive school system and a tradition of large-scale empirical research on the curriculum -- and Scandinavian curriculum research seemed to demand attention by a scholarly curriculum journal. Fortunately, the particular facility of Scandinavian scholars with English and the orientation of Scandinavian educational research towards English-language, and particularly North American, research made it relatively easy to bring colleagues from Sweden into the journal's network. But while such engagement with Swedish starting points for curriculum inquiry did serve to put the ideas of curriculum policy analysis and state-based curriculum control firmly onto the agenda of JCS -- these themes were not then on talked about in North American or British curriculum studies -- it did not fundamentally challenge an understanding of 'curriculum' rooted in the English-speaking world's experience. JCS was, as a result of its engagement with Scandinavian, and later Dutch research, a busier corner than it had been before with more people and more ideas passing by; but, at another level, it was a place in which all the characters were quite familiar.
It has only been very recently that this sense of easy familiarity with the assumptions of the work being published in JCS has changed. Over the past few volumes, as JCS has been able to publish some fascinating papers from Germany, we have come to realize there are educational traditions in central and northern Europe, geisteswissenschaftliche Pädagogik and Didaktik, with languages, concepts, and categories that have no immediate analogs in Anglo-Saxon curriculum theory or praxis -- and scholars working in those fields whose names have no resonance in the English-language world but who nevertheless unambiguously address curriculum questions in fascinating ways.
This emerging contact with Didaktik particularly has been very significant in permitting JCS to realize, for the first time, something that we have been struggling to articulate intellectually and editorially for many years. We seem to have in this ëdiscoveryí of German curriculum studies the starting point for a genuine and comprehensive dialogue across truly different 'curriculum' cultures, a dialogue that lets us see both the curriculum and the ways in which it might be discussed as much more than a busy place where many ideas pass by, and can be picked up one by one by those who are interested in particular issues. Such a dialogue can only be enriching to all of us who wish to understand the curriculum as a cultural form and to develop curriculum theory as a way of conceptualizing the intersection of curriculum and schooling.
Needless to say, the idea of such a dialogue also goes to the heart of the collaboration which JCS is forging in this first issue of Revista de Estudios del Curriculum (REC) with curriculum studies in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds. We hope that the papers from JCS that will be published in REC will illuminate for a new readership the busy corner of curriculum studies but more importantly, will extend the cross-cultural and cross-national dialogues about the curriculum that JCS has always sought to support.
As an international journal JCS cannot enter closely into the internal educational and curriculum debates of any country or community. We do seek to publish 'reports' on those national debates and on their context in developments in and around the curriculum -- because we need to know what the issues are that concern policy-makers and researchers in individual curriculum communities and how they think about them. We seek to report the results of different kinds of inquiry into the curriculum -- whether empirical or evaluation studies, case studies, histories, policy analyses or reflective essays and think pieces -- because we need to know all of the different ways the curriculum can be thought about. And with the field, JCS has moved way from the focus of its early years on curriculum projects and top-down curriculum implementation; we now see the curriculum as something embedded in national and trans-national teaching, systemic, organizational, political and cultural contexts and something that must be thought about in a variety of ways -- politically, managerially, deliberatively, and reflectively. And rather than address only the ëcurriculum,í JCS has extended its concerns to include teaching, schooling, and the assessment of the outcomes of schools because, when all is said and done curricula must be realized by school leaders, teachers, and students and we must know how this happens.
From its beginnings the overriding editorial goal of JCS has centered on the hope that the journal can play a role in the illumination and understanding of the curriculum. We now see that such understanding can only come from seeing the curriculum as something that is found in, across, and between the settings and contexts represented by the national and international communities in which teaching and curricula are instantiated. Teaching, schooling and the curriculum are trans-national institutions, cultural forms, and problems, that are embedded everywhere in personal, professional, organizational, political, cultural and scholarly contexts, and are everywhere influenced by intellectual, cultural, social, and political movements. The curriculum can only be illuminated when it is seen comparatively. REC and JCS, with their readership and contributors spanning national and cultural boundaries, give meaning to that understanding.